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Weekly Rental Revenue Surges on Strong Slate

18 Sep, 2003 By: Melinda Saccone

Strong product in the rental pipeline helped deter the customary decline in rental spending as U.S. families headed into a new school year.

Consumer rental spending for the week ended Sept. 14 registered $206.7 million, up 4.4 percent from the previous week and up 35.7 percent from the comparable week last year.

The double-digit increases in the weekly year-over-year comparison can be attributed to a stronger slate of releases in the rental pipeline.

The top 50 rentals for the week packed a much stronger box office punch than their 2002 counterparts, which translated into more play at the rental counter.

Collectively, the top 50 rentals for the week earned $1.8 billion in theaters prior to their video debut -- 9.4 percent more than their 2002 counterparts, which translated into 34 percent more revenue at the rental counter.

Seven new releases debuted on the top 50 rentals chart for the week. However, none of the newbies were able to break into the No. 1 spot, as competition from older titles remained strong.

Rental spending in the first two weeks of September registered $404.7 million, up 10.7 percent from the five-year average of $365.5 million for the comparable two-week period.

So far this year, consumers have spent $7.06 billion at the rental counter, up 10.8 percent from the $6.37 billion spent during the first 37 weeks of 2002.

Meanwhile, according to Nielsen VideoScan data, video sales of the top 50 sellers for the week ended Sept. 6 posted double-digit declines as sales of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers tapered off in its second week of release.

Disc sales of the top 50 sellers for the week were off 49.3 percent from the previous week, led by a 76.5 percent decline in disc sales of Two Towers as many consumers bought the “must-have” disc in its first week.

Cassette sales followed suit. VHS sales were down 36.4 percent, led by a 52.8 percent dropoff in cassette sales of Two Towers.

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